I was listening to a tremendous interview with Sociologists Dr. Harry Edwards (the podcast can be heard here) where he broke down some reasons for the decline in African-American baseball players. Later, I had a conversation with a friend and we discussed the lack of fundamentals seen in little league today.
So take a look at the following chart created by sabr.org:
Does anything surprise you?
What surprises me is the fact that according to the statistics, in 2012, African-Americans made up 7.2% of the MLB players. But in 1958, 11 years after Jackie Robinson broke the modern color-line in major league baseball (there were previously African-American’s in baseball, see here) there were 7.4%!
That’s right fans, major league baseball has the same percentage of African-American players as it had during the heart of American civil rights struggle as schools were still choosing to close their doors over desegregating.
This certainly deserves more of an in-depth study than what I’m going to do today, but I want to begin having the conversation and I want to first start with dads. Dr. Edwards has pointed out that unless we reach our boys (of any people group), with the sport of baseball by the time they are around ten years old, the likelihood of them picking up the sport is very minimal. Of course this gets compounded in the African-American community as they struggle with:
– lack of fathers in the household
– lack of funding for sports programs, especially baseball
– lack of secure playing field/area due to high crime rate in the neighborhood
– lack of finances to pay league fees and/or for equipment
– lack of interest due to popularity of football and basketball
– lack of fields that are in suitable playing condition (i.e. free of glass, high weeds)
– lack of investment by Major League Baseball (RBI Program excluded) in urban communities and lack of marketing towards African-Americans.
Those are just a few issues off the top of my head and again, each deserves a study just to see if data backs up the observation.
But one thing for sure, as shown on this “good” commercial, dad’s can play a big part in reviving the game.
I remember kids who were tremendous athletes and loved basketball and football, but they could not catch a baseball nor did they know how to even hold a baseball bat. No dad was around to show them.
But this is where you come in and if you don’t have any children, teach another child.
So this week’s CSD Homework: Spend just 15 minutes teaching your son or daughter (or the son or daughter of someone else), how to throw a baseball, catch a baseball and hold a bat. That’s it. Even if you aren’t the greatest, or never liked baseball yourself, you likely know at least how to do those things because hopefully someone taught you or you learned it back-in-the-day before video games taught fundamentals.
Let me know how it goes in the comment section below!